Son Boy dan Saudara Perempuannya

Sebuah cerpen terjemahan dari Kebaya Tales

Son Boy and Sisters Son Boy dan Saudara Perampuannya
I’m fed-up. Absolutely sick of my friends teasing me about my name. Aku jengah.  Benar-benar jengah dengan lelucon yang selalu digelontorkan kawan-kawan mengenai namaku.
Son Boy. That’s my name. Son Boy. Itulah namaku.
Sounds alright, you may think. I don’t disagree. Only problem is – I’m a girl. It’s not like my parents had run out of names when Mum became pregnant for the fourth time. All my three elder sitsters have exquisite names. My eldest sister is named Ruby, my second sister Sapphire, my third Emerald. Jika menurut kalian nama itu terdengar wajar-wajar saja, aku sepakat.Tapi, masalahnya aku seorang anak perempuan! Papa dan Mama sebenarnya bukannya kehabisan ide ketika Mama mengandung anak ke empatnya ini. Lihat saja ketiga saudara perempuanku, mereka memiliki nama yang cantik; yang sulung Ruby, lalu Sapphire, dan yang ketiga Emereald.
Then Dad got fed-up. Papa kemudian bosan.
“I want a boy,” he told my Mum assertively. “Papa ingin anak laki-laki.” tegas Papa pada Mama.
A friend had told him his girls’ names were too beautiful and the spirits were jealous and would continue bestowing him with daughters. That’s when he panicked. Teman Papa bilang, nama anak-anak Papa terlalu indah dan itu membuat para arwah iri. Bisa-bisa sampai seterusnya ia dianugrahi anak perempuan. Bagaimana Papa tidak panik?
When I was born, Mum was quite happy to be blessed with another girl. She already had a name in mind to top up her semi-precious stones series. Ketika aku lahir, Mama sangat gembira dianugrahi seorang putri lagi. Jauh-jauh hari ia sudah  menyediakan nama untuk melengkapi seri batu mulianya.
“Husband,” she said, “Let’s call her Diamond.” “Pa..”, ujar Mama. “Bagaimana kalau kita panggil putri kecil kita ini Diamond?”
“No! No more of your fanciful names. Enough of rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and now diamonds. I already have a name for her. Son Boy.” “Nggak, Ma! Ga ada nama-nama batu mulia lagi. Sudah rubi, safir, zamrud, dan sekarang mau berlian? Nggak. Papa sudah sudah siapkan nama untuknya. Son Boy!
“What? SON BOY?! Are you crazy? No daughter of mine is going to be called that ludicrous name.” “Apa? SON BOY?! Papa sudah gila? Putri kita tidak akan pakai nama konyol seperti itu!”
“It’s strategy. After Son Boy, we will definitely get a boy.” “Ini strategi, Mama sayang. Setelah Son Boy, kita pasti dianugrahi anak laki-laki.”
“Whatever happened to your biology lessons? Don’t be absurd.” “Mama tidak tau apa yang terjadi dengan pelajaran Biologi Papa, tapi tolong jangan aneh-aneh, Pa!
“Oh ho… You’ll be surprised. Dr. Tao, my feng shui master, told me we’ve got to break the chain.” “Serius, Ma! Mama pasti terkejut. Dr. Tao, pakar feng shui Papa bilang, kita harus memutus rantai ini.
“You’re out of your mind. If you think I’m goint to let you, you’d better think again!” “Papa sudah tidak waras! Jangan harap Mama akan setuju!”
I was too young to know what transpired. Ruby told me much later there was a big fight. Dad got his way and I was named Son Boy. Mum wouldn’t speak to Dad for weeks. But they must have connected again, because a year later, Mum got pregnant and this time it was a boy. Dad couldn’t stop gloating for days. Kala itu, aku masih terlalu kecil untuk memahami apa yang terjadi. Ruby bilang sedang terjadi perang dunia ketiga. Papa bersikukuh menamaiku Son Boy dan mama mogok bicara dengan Papa selama bermingu-minggu. Tapi  mereka terpaksa berkomunikasi lagi sebab setahun kemudian, Mama hamil lagi dan kali ini anak laki-laki. Tentu saja Papa merasa sombong selama berhari-hari.
He wanted to name his firstborn son after some famous Chinese hero or military officer but Mum insisted on Arthur as in King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Tables. Papa pun mengusulkan beberapa nama pahlawan Cina yang terkenal atau perwira militer untuk putra pertama mereka. Tapi Mama bersikeras ingin menamainya Arthur, seperti dalam legenda King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Tables.

                 

“Bah, you and your English literature and your bloody English heroes. Why can’t you be more Chinese? Why all these poncey English names? You Straits-born people are weird,” grumbled Dad who was born into a Cantonese family in Gopeng and had a very Chinese upbringing and Mandarin-medium education. “Hiih! Mama dan literatur dan pahlawan Inggris Mama itu tidak masuk akal. Lebih Chinese sedikit dong, Ma! Kenapa harus keinggris-inggrisan, sih! Peranakan aneh!” gerutu Papa yang dilahirkan dalam keluarga Kanton di Gopeng dan dididik sangat Cina sekali.
“I didn’t hear you complaining when you were courting me,” snapped Mum. “Oh now I’m weird, is it? Back then, I was dusky, exotic nyonya.” “Dulu ketika masih pacaran Papa tidak pernah komplen!”damprat Mama. “Dulu Mama eksotis dan seksi tapi sekarang Mama aneh, begitu?
She added, “You’re the one who’s weird calling our daughter Son Boy! Don’t blame me if starts growing hair on her chest.” “Papa yang aneh, menamai putri sendiri Son Boy! Jangan salahkan Mama kalau mulai tumbuh rambut di dadanya!” tambah Mama.
“Okay, okay, let’s compromise then,” Dad pleaded. Although my Pa was a very rich, successful and cunning, I’m told, businessman, he was quite wary of Mum’s sharp tongue. “Oke…oke! Mari kita kompromikan lagi.”pinta Papa. “Meskipun ayahnya Papa adalah seseorang yang sangat kaya, sukses, dan cerdik, ia cukup waspada pada lidah tajam Ibu.”

 

Finally, they agreed to settle on the full works. My little brother was named after both the English king as well as the Chinese general – Arthur Loh Sun Tse. We all preferred to call him Arthur. Akhirnya, mereka sepakat untuk mengambil jalan tengah. Adik lelakiku diberi nama seperti raja Inggris yang dikombinasikan dengan nama Chinese; Arthur Loh Sun Tse. Kami memanggilnya Arthur.
During those growing up years, we were quite a close-knit family – Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Arthur and I, Son Boy. Dari hari ke hari, kami tumbuh dalam ikatan keluarga yang cukup kuat; Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Arthur dan aku, Son Boy.
The problems came on thick and fast when we reached young adulthood and my sisters started getting the attention of the opposite sex. All three of them are beautiful, I have to admit. With their names like theirs, you do get a head start in life, I suppose. I, on the other hand, was quite plain with stubborn spiky hair and lousy skin. Namun, masalah mulai muncul dan runyam ketika kami menginjak usia dewasa dan saudara perempuanku mulai mendapat perthatian dari lawan jenis. Harus kuakui, mereka bertiga cantik-cantik. Dengan nama indah yang melekat pada mereka, ku rasa mereka memiliki modal untuk selangkah lebih maju. Sementara aku, begitu polos dengan rambut jabrik yang susah diatur, plus kulit yang kusam.
Ruby has thick black hair with reddish tints cascading to her shoulders, red pouty lips and sultry eyes a man could drown in. She drove all her boyfriends crazy with desire, I’m quite sure of that. She ws studying Economics at the University of London and was about to graduate and return to Malaysia when she called up one day to say she wasn’t. She had fallen in love with an Irish man, a postgraduate student in Political Science whom she’d met at an Irish bar. They planned to get married soon and wanted Mum and Dad to give their blessings. Ruby memiliki rambut yang hitam tebal bergradasi kemerahan yang tergerai ke bahu. Bibirnya yang ranum dan matanya yang membius mampu menenggelamkan para lelaki. Ia membuat teman lelakinya tergila-gila. Aku yakin itu. Ia sedang kuliah Ekonomi di University of London dan sebentar lagi lulus. Namun ketika akan pulang ke Malaysia,ia mengurungkan niatnya. Ia telah jatuh cinta dengan seorang mahasiswa pascasarjana jurusan Ilmu Politik dari Irlandia yang ia temui di sebuah bar. Mereka berencana segera menikah dan meminta Mama Papa merestui mereka.
Mum, who grew up on a diet of Barbara Cartland, Barbara Bradford and Denise Robbins during her teens, cooed with excitement. “Oh, of course Ruby. How terribly romantic. Any chance he’s a Marquis or a Lord?” Mama yang tumbuh besar dengan buku-buku Barbara Cartland, Barbara Bradford dan Denise Robbins selama masa remaja, tentu sangat gembira.”Oh, tentu Ruby. Ini sangat romantis. Apakah ia bergelar Marquis atau Lord?”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Mum. He’s Irish,” Ruby replied. “Demi Tuhan, Ma. Dia orang Irlandia!”jawab Ruby.
It was Dad who objected, and so vehemently it took us all by surprise. Sebaliknya, Papa sangat keberatan dan tiba-tiba jadi keras. Kami semua kaget.
“What?! Marry a kwei lo? Are you crazy? No daughter of mine is going to marry a kwei lo!” “Apa? Menikah dengan seorang kwei lo? Tidak waras! Putri Papa ga ada yang menikahi seorang kwei lo!”
This started another big fight between Mum and Dad. Perang dunia antara Mama dan Papa pun kembali bergejolak.
“What’s wrong with a kwei lo? And stop calling white people devils, will you? It’s embarassing. You China-born types are still suffering from the Opium Wars siege mentality or what? Ruby says Malachy is a wonderful man.” “Memang kenapa dengan seorang kwei lo, Pa? Dan tolong jangan memanggil orang kulit putih “iblis” lagi. Malu-maluin! Keturunan Cina masih sakit karena Perang Opium atau apa sih? Ruby bilang Malacy itu lelaki hebat, Pa!”
“Ma-what? What’s his name again?” “Ma..siapa? Siapa tadi namanya?”
“Malachy O’ Connor. Our future son-in-law. She loves him deeply.” “Malacy O’Connor, pria yang sangat dicintai Ruby, calon menantu kita!”
“Ma… Ma… Ma foot, she does! I’m not going to have a ginger-haired, freckled little ang mo kids with Chinese eyes running around this house. No, I absolutely forbid it.” “Ma…Ma… Nggak. Ga ada anak-anak ang mo dengan bintik-bintik di wajah- berambut merah- bermata sipit lari-larian di rumah ini. Hih. Papa tidak izinkan.”
“Oh, grow up, Husband. No one’s asking you for permission in the first place, only your blessings. It’s the eighties. It’s a different world today. We don’t have any say, we can only be there for them if things go wrong.” “Jangan seperti anak kecil dong, Pa. Lagi pula siapa juga yang minta izin Papa? Cuma minta do’a. Ini tahun 80an, sudah beda. Kita tidak berhak mengatur. Kita cuma memberi dukungan ketika dibutuhkan.”
Chapalang! I worked so hard all my life and what do I get? Do I need this? My golf buddies and business associates will laugh at me and my chapalang grandchildren!” Chapalang!” Papa kerja keras siang-malam dan liat yang Papa dapat. Keterlaluan! Teman-teman main golf dan rekan bisnis Papa pasti menertawakan Papa dan cucu chapalang papa!”
“What’s chapalang, Dad?” I butted in. “Apa sih chaplang, Pa?”aku menyela.
Chapalang is what you’ll get if you don’t mind your own business. Butt out, Son, and concentrate on your maths homework.” “Chaplang itu adalah apa yang akan kamu dapatkan jika kamu terus ikut campur. Selesaikan saja PR matematikamu, Son.”
Chapalang is a Malaysian bigot’s definition for the offspring of mixed marriages, Boy,” Mum tried to educate me. “Caplang itu definisi lebay orang Malaysia untuk keturunan perwakinan campuran, Boy.” Mama mencoba menjelaskan.
Dad wrote to Ruby and threatened he would disown her if she married her Irish boyfriend. He ordered her to return home to Kuala Lumpur as soon as she finished her last course where he would reward her with a brand new BMW, a cushy job as director in one of his companies and a Rolex watch. He would introduce her to his Chinese business tycoon friends, many of whom had eligible sons who would make a good husbands and filial sons-in-law. Papa pun menulis surat untuk Ruby dan mengancam tidak akan dianggap sebagai anak jika ia bersikeras menikahi si Irlandia itu. Papa memerintahkan Ruby untuk pulang ke KL setelah menyelesaikan kuliahnya dengan iming-iming BMW keluaran terbaru, jam Rolex, plus kerjaan enak jadi direktur di salah satu perusahaan Papa. Papa juga bilang akan memperkenalkannya dengan rekan bisnis Cinanya. Banyak di antara mereka memiliki anak yang memenuhi syarat sebagai suami sekaligus menantu yang baik.
Ruby’s reply was, “Thanks but no thanks.” Ruby was quite the chip off the old block. Tetapi Ruby menjawab, “Terima kasih, Pa. Tapi Ruby tidak berminat.” Ya, memang buah jatuh tak jauh dari pohonnya.
I cringed knowing full well the battle of wills ahead. Sure enough, Dad made life miserable for everyone at home, yelling and snarling and kicking our poor mongrel, Putih, more often than usual. After downing three glasses of Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch with tiny amounts of water one evening, he called his lawyer and announced loudly for all to hear. Aku ngeri membayangkan akibat lanjutanpertikaianini. Dan benar saja, Papa membuat seisi rumah menderita. Ia berteriak, menggeram, serta menendang si Putih, anjing kami yang malang, lebih sering dari biasanya. Suatu malam, selepas menenggak tiga gelas Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch yang dicampur sedikit air, ia memanggil pengacaranya dan mengumumkan sesuatu pada kami.
“Mr Gucharan Singh, I want you to change my will. Strike out my eldest daughter’s name. No share of my property for her, you hear me?” he growled, then told Mum to inform Ruby. “Tuan Gucharan Singh, saya ingin Anda mengubah surat wasiat saya. Coret nama putri sulung saya. Tidak ada bagian harta untuknya, Anda dengar itu?” geramnya. Papa lalu menyuruh Mama memberitahu Ruby.
That didn’t seem to bother Ruby one bit. She and her sweetheart, Malachy, flew to his hometown, Limerick in Ireland, a fortnight later and got hitched. Nyatanya, Ruby tidak terganggu sedikitpun. Ia dan kekasihnya, Malacy, terbang ke kampung halamannya di Limerick-Irlandia dua minggu kemudian dan menikah di sana.

 

 

The wedding photos arrived soon after – Ruby looking radiant in a white cheongsam with a posy of white roses, daisies and babies’ breath on her hair, and handsome, flaming red-haired Malachy in a Tartan kilt in charming garden setting. Mum showed the photos proudly around to her relatives who ohh-ed and aah-ed over them, while Dad sat black-faced, arms folded across his chest, scowling. Tak lama, foto pernikahan mereka sampai di rumah. Ruby terlihat berseri dalam balutan cheongsam putihnya lengkap dengan buket mawar putih serta mahkota bunga mawar, aster aster, babies’ breath, bersanding dengan si tampan berambut merah menyala mengenakan rok Tartan berlatar dekorasi taman yang indah. Mama memamerkan foto tersebut dengan bangga pada para kerabatnya yang ditimpali dengan “waaah…”. Namun Papa, dengan tangan terlipat di dada, memasang wajah cemberut dan ditekuk.
All was relatively quiet for some time. No one dared bring up the topic of Ruby’s marriage for a while till things cooled down. Then one night we were halfway through dinner when the phone rang. It was a call from my second sister, Sapphire, studying law at the University of Kent. Untuk beberapa saat, semuanya tenang; tak ada yang berani membahas pernikahan Ruby, setidaknya sampai situasi tenang. Tapi suatu malam, kami sedang makan malam ketika telepon berdering. Ternyata dari kakak keduaku, Sapphire, yang sedang kuliah hukum di University of Kent.
Sapphire was attractive in a cool, elegant and classy way, and clearly the smartest of us all. She was very well-read, a real intellectual type and extremely articulate. I couldn’t understand half the bombastic words she used. She could out-talk anyone. During her school days, she was the star of her school debating team. Consistently on the Dean’s list at university, she was a formidable scholar with beauty and brains. Dad had big plans for her to work for his company and sue anyone who dared cross him. Sapphire adalah orang yang keren, elegan, dan berkelas. Ia jelas yang paling pandai di antara kami. Ia seorang yang berwawasan luas karena, tipikal intelektual sejati dan sangat artikulatif. Aku kadang tidak bisa memahami kata-kata bombastis yang ia gunakan. Ia mahir beradu argumentasi dengan siapa saja. Ia bahkan menjadi bintang tim debat sekolahnya dulu. Selama kuliah pun, ia konsisten menjadi mahasiswa berprestasi. Benar-benar seseorang yang tangguh dengan kecantikan dan kecerdasan. Ayah memiliki rencana besar untuknya di perusahaan dan akan menuntut siapa saja yang berani melawannya.
Mum answered the call in the second hall and was on the line for quite a long time. Meanwhile, Dad was enjoying his dinner of stir-fried veggies with gingko nuts and steamed white pomfret in soy sauce with mushrooms. He was in a relatively calm mood as his wife had finally complied with his wishes after his incessant grumbling and cooked him a ‘proper Chinese meal’. He had enough of her Nyonya curries and raging hot sambal dishes. I loved Mum’s wonderful Peranakan dishes but Dad complained they were too ‘heaty’ and gave him indigestion. Di ruangan yang berbeda, Mama menjawab telepon dari Shappire. Mereka berbincang cukup lama. Sementara itu, Papa sedang menikmati makan malamnya dengan sayur tumis dan kacang gingko serta bawal putih kukusdengan kecap dan jamur. Suasana hatinya cenderung tenang karena setelah menggerutu tanpa henti, akhirnya Mama memenuhi keinginan Papa dan membuatkannya “makanan Cinaasli”. Papa sudah bosan dengan kari Nyonya dan hidangan sambal pedas Mama. Sebenarnya aku suka sekali masakan Peranakan Mama itu, tapi Papa bilang terlalu pedas dan menyebabkan gangguan pencernaan.
Mum came into the kitchen with an inscrutable expression and said, “That was Sapphire. I have good news and bad news, Husband. The bad news is she has broken up with her childhood sweetheart, Lum Ah Kow.” Mama pun kembali ke dapur dengan ekspresi datar dan berkata, “Itu tadi Shappire, Pa. Mama punya kabar baik dan kabar buruk. Kabar buruknya, ia sudah putus dengan kekasih masa kanak-kanaknya, Lum Ah Kow.”
Dad rejoiced, “Hey, ha ha, that’s not bad news, that’s good news! Never could stand that pimply mousy young man. And what a name. Imagine our Sapphire being called Mrs Lum Ah Kow!” Ayah malah girang. “Oh ya? Ma, itu bukan kabar buruk! Ha ha ha. Papa ga paham dengan lelaki pemalu jerawatan itu. Dan, duh..bayangin kalau Shappire kita dipanggil Nyonya Lum Ah Kow!”
“And what’s the good news?” asked Dad when Mum kept quiet. “Lantas, berita baiknya apa, Ma? Tanya Papa karena Mama diam saja.
“The good news is she has found someone else. A South African journalist she met at a civil rights demonstration in London last month.” “Kabar baiknya adalah Shappire telah menemukan yang lain, seorang wartawan Afrika Selatan. Mereka bertemu di sebuah demonstrasi hak-hal sipil di London bulan lalu.”
Dad spluttered on his double boiled chicken soup with winter melon. Papa menyemburkan sup ayam bligonya.
“A what? A… Aff… a… Affrican? You call that good news? That’s **** bad news!” “Orang mana? Afrikaa?? Mama bilang itu berita bagus? Itu berita buruk, Mama!”
“I didn’t say Affrican. I said, South Affrican.” “Mama ga bilang Afrika. Mama bilang Afrika Selatan!”
“I don’t care if it’s north, south, east or west! He’s Affrican. Has she gone mad? What’s wrong with Asian men? Why Affrican? What are my daughters trying to do to me? Chee sin… Fatt sun keng… Chan hai ow huit lor!” “Papa ga peduli mau utara, selatan, timur, barat..tetep saja orang Afrika. Dia sudah sinting apa? Apa yang salah dengan lelaki Asia? Kenapa anak-anakku melakukan ini padaku, Tuhan? Chee sin… Fatt sun keng… Chan hai ow huit lor!”
Dad started swearing and could hardly swallow another mouthful. Papa mulai mengeluarkan sumpah serapah dan hampir-hampir tidak bisa lagi menelan makanannya.
“You sent your girls abroad to widen their horizons, didn’t you? It’s to their credit they are not colour fixated like you!” Mum barked at Dad. “And stop swearing in Cantonese, will you? So crude!” “Papa mengirim mereka ke luar negeri untuk memperluas wawasan mereka, kan? Bagus dong mereka tidak terpaku dengan warna kulit seperti Papa.”Mama membentak Papa. “Dan jangan mengumpat pakai bahasa Kanton lagi. Tidak sopan!”
“I sent them to get an education. The all-important paper qualifications! I didn’t ask them to bring back the United Nations!” Dad shouted. “Papa mengirim mereka untuk belajar. Untuk memenuhi kualifikasi perusahaan-perusahaan penting. Papa tidak menyuruh mereka membawa pulang bangsa lain!” teriak Papa.
“Er… are South Affrican black or white, Dad? Huh… Mum?” I queried. “Mmm…Orang Afrika Selatan itu hitam atau putih, Ma?” tanyaku.
“Shaddup, Son! Eat your Chinese mushrooms,” Dad yelled. “Diam, Son! Habiskan saja jamur Cina itu!” teriak Papa lagi.
Dad tried to persuade Sapphire to dump her Affrican sweetheart and return home ASAP with promises of a fully-payed deluxe condominiium in Mont Kiara, a Mercedes S-class series, a country club membership and two Rolex watches. She didn’t even have to work for the first year if she didn’t want to. Papa membujuk Sapphire agar mencampakkan kekasih Afrikanya dan pulang secepat mungkin. Papa mengiming-iminginya apartemen mewah di Mont Kiara, sebuah  Mercedes seri S-class, keanggotaan Country Club dan dua buah jam Rolex. Bahkan kalau mau, ia tak harus kerja di tahun pertama.
Sapphire sent home her response in a long letter to Dad using such complicated, polysyllabic words even Dad and Mum gave up trying to understand her theories on the meter… er meta… metaphysics of physical attraction and the divee… er… divinity of love, juxtaposed with the transit… er… transient nature of material wealth. She also enclosed a photocopied article entitled something or other than bondage, about petty… er… petra… patriarchy and the female condition. Dad could not fathom a word of it. Sapphire mengirim surat balasan yang panjang dengan kata-kata bersuku banyak dan rumit. Bahkan Mama Papa hampir menyerah memahami teori-teorinya tentang meta..metafisik daya tarik fisik dan kesakaa..kesakralan cinta yang disandingkan dengan kealfa..kefanaan kekayaan materi atau apalah itu. Ia menyertakanfotocopy artikel tentang perbudakan, tentangpatri..patriarki dan kondisi perempuan.. entahlah. Papa sama sekali tidak memahami arti kata itu.
“Look! Look at all my thousands of hard-earned dollars and what it has done to her brain. Gone cuckoo!” Dad complained. “Ya ampun! Papa sudah mengorbankan ribuan dollar dan lihat apa yang telah terjadi dengan otaknya? Tidak waras!” protes Papa.
“Why are you freaking out? She’s just dating him. They haven’t even talked of marriage yet,” Mum retorted. “Kenapa panik begitu sih, Pa? Mereka kan hanya pacaran, bahkan belum menyinggung pernikahan!”balas Mama.
“Well, she’d better watch out or else… or else I’ll call my lawyer Mr Gucharan Singh again,” he threatened. “Yah, sebaiknya ia berhati-hati atau..atau Papa akan menelpon Tuan Gucharan Singh lagi.” ancam Papa.
“You know Sapphire. She thrives on ideas and ideology. Your money doesn’t matter a jot to her.” “Papa kan tau persis Sapphire itu bagaimana. Dia tumbuh dengan ide-ide dan ideologi. Ia mana peduli dengan uang Papa.”
“It’s all your fault,” he scolded Mum. “You and your stupid, arty-farty notions of love you’ve been feeding our daughters with!” “Ini semua salah Mama.” Papa malah mengomeli Mama. “Mama dan pengertian tentang cinta Mama itu sudah meracuni otak anak-anak.”
“Well, excuse me, they sure are a lot cleverer than me in their choices.” “Pa, mereka lebih pintar menentukan pilihan mereka sendiri ketimbang Mama.”
“Ouch,” I muttered quietly, just in case I got told to shaddup again. “Duh!” gumamku lirih. Dari pada disuruh diam lagi.
All eyes were on Emerald now. Arthur and I were still too young to get entngled in this girl-boy business. I didn’t even dare tll anyone I was having a crush on a senior school prefect in my all-girls’ school –tawny tanned Rozita, ace discus and javelin athlete and long distance runner. Sekarang, semua mata tertuju pada Emerald. Aku dan Arthur masih terlalu muda untuk terlibat dalam urusan cinta. Aku bahkan tak berani cerita pada siapapun bahwa aku naksirketua kelas SMA di sekolah khusus perempuan, Rozita yang eksotis, si atlet lempar lembing dan pelari jarak jauh.
Emeral was Dad’s favourite and I was quite sure she would deliver. Deliver what I don;t know but no, no way she would go against Dad’s wishes, I was sure of that. Emerald adalah putri kesayangan Papa. Aku yakin ia akan memenuhi harapan Papa. Harapan apa, aku tidak tahu, yang jelas mustahil ia melawan keinginan Papa. Aku sangat yakin itu.
Dad wasn’t that sure, I think, because he refused to send her to the United Kingdom for further studies. Instead, he sent her to the National University of Singapore. Plenty of ‘normal’ bachelors there, I heard him pronounce triumphantly while Mum rolled her eyes in disgust. Tapi Papa sepertinya tidak yakin sebab Papa tidak mau mengirimnya ke Inggris untuk melanjutkan sekolah. Akhirnya ia kuliah di National University of Singapore. Di sana banyak lelaki ‘normal’. Aku mendengar sendiri Papa mengatakannya dengan penuh kemenangan sementara Mama memutar bola matanya dengan sebal.
Emerald did not protest unfairness. She was a sweet, gentle girl, always laughing, very manja, the touchy feely type who loved soft toys and Mozart and cried over sad movies. Sentimental like Mum, she was quite happy to be near home and did not like to stray too far from her comfort zone. She loved animals and wanted to pursue a course in Veterinary Science but Dad told her there was no future in taking care of animals in this country and she was persuaded to switch to Biochemistry instead. Emerald tidak protes atas ketidak adilan itu. Dia benar-benar seorang gadis manis, lembut, manja, tipe-tipe gadis yang menyukai mainan lembut dan musik Mozart serta sering menangis ketika menonton film sedih. Ia sentimental seperti Mama. Ia senang berada dekat dengan rumah dan tidak ingin terlalu jauh dari zona nyamannya. Ia sayang sekali pada binatang dan ingin memperdalam Ilmu Kedokteran Hewan tapi kata Papa di negeri ini tidak ada masa depan dalam bidang itu. Sebagai gantinya, ia dibujuk untuk beralih ke Biokimia.
After her first year at university, I sensed something was wrong when she didn’t call home anymore or come back for quick visits over long weekends. Then one day, a letter came in the mail from Emerald, addressed to Mum. I got to hear the contents when Dad came home from work. Setelah tahun pertama di universitas, aku merasakan ada yang berbeda ketika ia tidak pernah menelpon rumah lagi atau pulang sebentar di akhir pekan. Lalu, suatu hari, Emerald mengirim surat ke Mama. Aku sempat mendengar isinya ketika Papa pulang.

 

Mum said, “I’ve news from Emerald. I won’t do the good news-bad news routine this time, Husband. You figure it out.”  “Mama punya kabar dari Emerald. Mama tidak akan bilang ini kabar baik atau buruk seperti biasanya. Papa pasti sudah mengerti.” Ujar Mama.
“What? Does she need more money? I’ve already topped up her bank account in Singapore, plus given her another supplementary credit card.” “Apa sih, Ma? Dia butuh uang lagi? Papa  kan sudah top-up akun bank nya di Singapore, plus ada beberapa kartu kredit tambahan.”
“She doesn’t want your money, she wants your understanding.” “Dia tidak mau uang Papa. Dia butuh pengertian Papa.”
“Understanding what?” “Pengertian apa, Ma?”
“She is in love with… well, at least, half a Chinese.” “Ia sedang jatuh cinta pada…emm..oke..seorang pria setengah Cina.”
“What… What do you mean by half a Chinese? You’re either Chinese or you’re not. No halfway business. What the hell does that mean?” “Apa? Apa maksud Mama dengan setengah Cina? Cina ya Cina, nggak ya enggak. Jangan setengah-setengah. Ngomong yang jelas dong,”
“She’s in love with a Chindian.” “Oke. Ia jatuh cinta pada seorang Chindian.”
“What? What tribe is that? I didn’t know there were tribes living in Singapore.” “Hah? Suku apa itu? Papa tidak pernah tahu ada suku itu di Singapore.
“Oh for goodness sake, he’s half Chinese half Indian.” “Ya Tuhan..itu setengah Cina dan setengah India, Papa.”
“A Chinese Indian? Wat on earth? How the heck can that happen?” “Seorang Cina India? Demi Tuhan!  Bagaimana bisa itu terjadi?”
“Many things can happen, my dear, that are way beyond your limited comprehension.” “Banyak hal yang bisa terjadi Papa sayang, yang jauh di luar batas pemahaman Papa.”
“And what… what… is his Chinese mean?” Dad demanded. “Lalu, apa nama Cinanya?”tanya Papa.
“He doesn’t have Chinese name. His mother is Chinese. His father is Indian, actually not Indian but Sri Lankan. His surname is Chandrasegaran.” “Ia tidak punya nama Cina, Pa. Ibunya Cina, Ayahnya India…mm..bukan India, tapi Sri Lanka. Nama keluarganya Chandrasegaran.”
“That makes him a Chinilankan or a Lankachi, Dad,” I piped in helpfully. “Berarti dia seorang Chinilankan atau Lankachi, Pa?” tanyaku.
Dad flopped down on his big chair and clutched at his chest. Papa menghempaskan tubuhnya ke kursi besarnya seraya mencengkeram dada.
“Oh-oh, er… Mum, do I call the doctor or the lawyer?” “Duh…Ma, aku harus panggil dokter atau pengacara?”
“Shaddup, Boy,” Mum said. “Diam, Boy!”teriak Mama.

 

 

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